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For many years, the Center has spoken out on behalf of migrant farmworkers and other rural poor people. Center staff have testified about migrant needs before local, state and national government bodies, and sought to educate the public at large. Migrant advocates give voice to the voiceless. They recognize that farmworkers' problems are interlocked and persistent, but not unsolvable.

In 1977, speaking before the Seasonal Farmworker and Migrant Sub-Panel of the President's Commission on Mental Health, Gloria Mattera called for:

This advocacy agenda is ongoing.

The Center participates in Working Together, an inter-agency coordinating and advocacy group. At Farmworker Advocacy Day at the State Capitol in Albany, advocates educate legislators.

In 1997, the New York State Senate and Assembly passed legislation requiring access to drinking water in the fields for all farmworkers. However, other items remain on the advocacy agenda. Four priority issues in 1998 would extend to farmworkers the following rights enjoyed by New York's other workers:

  • adequate field sanitation: "farmworkers need toilets"
  • a day of rest for farmworkers if they wish it
  • the right to collective representation and bargaining
  • the right to the same increase in the minimum wage as the rest of the workforce

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